Expanding a bit on Catie’s post from yesterday…..
We all have our distractions: the metrics Catie described, our favorite computer games or web sites, those household chores and long-neglected repairs that never seem to matter until we’re supposed to be writing. I could write a whole post just about this (and probably will, at some point).
But as someone who is fairly new to blogging, and who has jumped into it with both feet and then some, I have to wonder if my web work is just another excuse to ignore the work I ought to be doing, or if, on the other hand, it’s actually helping me write more efficiently. I currently have two personal blogs (http://DavidBCoe.livejournal.com and http://DavidBCoe.wordpress.com — please forgive the shameless self-promotion); I have an amazon.com blog; I blog monthly on sfnovelists.com; and now I’m doing Magical Words every week. I also have a couple of forums running where I answer questions from readers. That’s a lot of blogging and web writing. Yes, there’s some overlap in the content across venues, although not much, aside from dual posts on my personal sites. The bottom line is, I’m spending a great deal of time writing stuff that never finds its way into books or stories.
In part I do this to “increase my web presense,” to make more people aware of the fact that I exist, that I write, that there are books out there with my name on them that are available for purchase. But I’m still trying to figure out if blogging does more for me than that. And I think it does.
For one thing, I don’t play nearly as much solitaire, minesweeper, and pinball as I used to. When I have spare time, or need a break from writing whatever book or story I happen to be working on, I go to one of my blogs or forums and work there. I also find myself thinking more about creative process and work issues than I used to. I need material for all these blogs, and I’m discovering that I’ve got more than I ever would have thought. In this respect, the Q. and A. stuff is particularly helpful. Answering questions from other writers forces me to think more about my approach to the profession, to individual projects, and even to the business side of what I do. This level of professional introspection is new for me, and I think its valuable.
And finally, I think the blogging is helping to make me more efficient, even though — or perhaps because — it’s eating into my writing time. I’m generally more productive in the afternoon. I have trouble getting started in the mornings, but once I’m going the pages start to pile up. Now though, I begin my day by blogging and before I ever even open up a book or story file on my computer, I’ve already got the juices flowing. By the time I get to my creative work, I’m in efficiency mode.
I guess the point of all this, is that writing begets writing. Beginning writers ask me sometimes how they can make themselves more productive, and the answer is always the same: Put your butt in the chair and write. But maybe the answer is both more and less complicated than that. Obviously, if you have a book you want to write, you need to work on it regularly — daily, if possible. But focusing on a journal or an unrelated story or, yes, a blog, can get you in the habit of writing. It can force you to think about your craft and your creative process. Or it can simply build up those writing muscles so that when you return to the book, you’ll be ready to churn out the pages.
Today’s music: Vivaldi (The Four Seasons — Nigel Kennedy, violin and director)